Religious leaders have warned of mass suffering in Sudan’s so-called ‘Two Areas’, as bombardment intensifies and civilians become targets.
The comments came as an interfaith delegation prepared to call on the African Union to prioritise humanitarian action in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Christian Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail and Muslim MP Amar Amoun Deldoum will form part of a delegation of Sudanese faith leaders and activists to Ethiopia this week.
Their visit follows increases in aerial bombing and ground clashes in the region. According to sources on the ground, both parties have been shelling civilian areas and, with the end of the rainy season, aerial bombing by the Sudan Armed Forces has increased.
Bombs have been dropped on busy market places and fields ready for harvesting: 125 bombs fell in the first two weeks of November alone.
Bishop Andudu and Amar Amoun will be joined by Mr. Benjamin Barnaba Arne, a Christian representative of the Sudan Council of Churches, and Ms Shara Josep Lago, a Muslim human rights activist from Blue Nile.
They will meet with Ambassadors to the African Union to highlight their concerns about the plight of civilians and the potential for the conflict to undermine peace between Sudan and South Sudan.
Amar Amoun said: “We have only a very small window of opportunity to save tens of thousands of lives. After months of fighting and a poor harvest there is a real risk of famine. African leaders and other countries with influence over Khartoum must insist that humanitarian aid be allowed in immediately.”
Bishop Andudu added: “The civilian population of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile has been subject to unconscionable violence and unimaginable human-rights violations. Mosques and churches have been attacked and many lives have been lost. But rather than dividing the people, these attacks have served to further unify the many faiths that have always peacefully coexisted in these areas. The African Union has a moral duty to do all it can to restore peace.”
According to Benjamin Barnaba Arne: “The humanitarian crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile is getting worse. The civilian population – Muslim and Christian alike – are hungry and frightened. They have been driven from their homes by violence and are now staring down the barrel of a famine. African leaders have done much already to try to bring peace to Sudan and its neighbours. We welcome their efforts but implore them to do more to help end the suffering in the ‘Two Areas’.”
“This conflict could undo the fragile peace between Sudan and South Sudan and fuel regional instability," said Shara Josep Lago.
"Welcome progress has been made in other areas of the negotiations but the situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile is getting worse. Many people are suffering, including women and children: the silent voices of this struggle. The AU must make ending the conflict in the ‘Two Areas’ a priority: it is as important for lasting peace within and between Sudan and South Sudan as oil,” he concluded.
The UN expects 30,000-40,000 new refugees to arrive in Maban County by the end of the year. There are 175,668 refugees in South Sudan from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Between 200,000-250,000 people are experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity in the ‘Two Areas’. In Southern Kordofan 81.5 per cent of households are surviving on one meal a day; 39 per cent of all households are displaced; and 72 per cent have experience a disease outbreak in the last three months.